You CAN Lower Your Health Insurance Costs…
Health insurance in America has come a long way since the Industrial Revolution, when labor unions were planting the seeds of our modern day health care system. After the Great Depression, when wage and price controls prohibited wage increases, employers enticed new workers with incentive-based raises in the form of “major medical” health insurance with low or no premiums.
Fast forward to the 21st century… health care has become a behemoth of regulations, entitlements, spiraling costs and red tape. Mandates have driven up the cost of health insurance, such as treatment for substance abuse, mental disorders, prescription drugs. In other words, insurance companies are forced to cover more conditions. As more and more things are mandated , there is no motivation to keep costs in check, as people rationalize that “insurance will take care of it”.
There are ways to alleviate high cost of health care. For those with low incomes, there are many resources available; programs and regulations vary by state. Costs may be graduated upward according to income. State programs exist that can help young people, children, expectant mothers and immigrants. With access to a computer, information about all programs are at one’s fingertips. the State Department of Health is a storehouse of information about government sponsored health care programs.
Keeping costs down-this is worth a try: write to your politicians. For example, let’s change the way Medicare payments are figured. Payments are based on estimates before treatments begin, including hospitalization. Let’s say it’s estimated that a patient will need a four day in the hospital stay for an approved procedure. If it turns out that only two days were needed, the hospital still gets paid for four, since that was what was on the original course of treatment.
Whether we’re self employed or work for an employer, we all want to save money on health care. More people are discovering that they don’t need a traditional employer based plan to get good health insurance. A person who’s self employed or an independent contractor can probably get insurance on their own for under $100 a month, a fraction of what an employer might have to pay for the same coverage.
If you have to pay the full amount to cover your spouse or children under your employer-sponsored plan, you could save up to half by removing them from your employer’s plan and finding health insurance for them on your own.
Want to get the most for your health care dollar? Look for insurance that gives you the best “base plan”…the highest amount of hospitalization coverage, a low “stop loss” ($4000 or under), and options to add features as desired, such as doctors visits. If you’re in the 50-60 age bracket and are fairly healthy, why should you pay for someone else’s well-baby visits? Remember that adding preventive care only jacks up your premium, so try paying for those costs “out of pocket”. Choose the highest deductible you’re comfortable with so your monthly payment can be as low as possible. Be sure to ask your accountant about Health Savings Accounts, where you can put before-tax dollars. If a high deductible hits your pocketbook, you’ll be prepared.
Finally, question each medical statement you receive. It’s your right! There’s no law that says you can’t challenge a bill that you think is too high. If more people did this, hospitals and providers might become more competitive. Thus, chances are good that we’d see costs drift downward instead of rising steadily upward.